Maybe it was appropriate that the Georgia Aquarium's two beluga whales finally went on public view Tuesday, a day given over to icy rain in Atlanta. Found in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of the world near countries such as Russia and Greenland, beluga whales know something about wet and cold.
Swimming behind a black curtain in the aquarium's Cold Water Quest gallery for more than a week, female Maris and male Beethoven were initially expected to make their public splash last Wednesday. But aquarium officials decided to wait and let them get acclimated to their new surroundings after their cargo plane transport from Sea World San Antonio. Satisfied that both whales are feeling at home now, the aquarium removed the curtain Tuesday morning that had covered the Cold Water Quest viewing window.
Maris is one of three belugas the aquarium sent to Texas last October during renovation on their display. Nico, a male, died there unexpectedly on Oct. 31 of unspecified causes. Maris' mother Natasha is staying in San Antonio, where there's a possible mate. In her place in Atlanta is 13-foot, 1,740-pound Beethoven, who might possibly show a similar interest in Maris, who is 11 feet long and weighs a dainty 900 pounds.